It was only a couple of weeks ago when Emma Hughes was in the high-pressure situation of bowling to some of the best players in Australia.
This weekend is something completely different but it’s also a scenario which has stirred up a few nerves within the 17-year-old.
Hughes will become the first female to debut in the RSL-Whitney Cup in more than a decade when she lines up for Macquarie in Saturday’s clash with Rugby.
A regular in the Blues’ lower grade sides in recent years, the NSW under 18s representative admits it’s a step up and a challenge unlike few others she’s faced before.
“When I first got told I was selected I was a bit nervous because obviously this is a big step up for me,” she said.
“Men hit the ball harder and play a completely different game so it’s a big step and it will probably test my confidence a bit but I know this will make me a better player so it’s exciting.”
Hughes will be the first female in the first grade competition since renowned spinner Katie Shanks, who developed into a key figure at RSL-Colts during a highly-regarded junior career.
Kelsey Ferguson also played McDonald’s Megahit matches for Colts but never featured in the RSL-Whitney Cup.
“It’s a big step for myself and most girls in Dubbo,” Hughes said of her debut.
“It’s promoting girls’ cricket and I’m proud to be someone who’s stepping up to that bar and it proves how hard I’ve been training. I’m glad someone sees me as a good cricketer.
“It’s good to see cricket is not just a boys’ sport. It is for girls and it’s really popular. It’s good to see.”
Hughes owes a lot of what she’s achieved to the help she’s received at Macquarie, the club having played a huge role in her development in recent seasons.
Despite her performances on the local and representative scene there was never a rush to move Hughes into the top grade.
The talented seamer has played a number of Megahit games for the club and while this is new, Hughes said playing alongside so many people who have helped her will make it easier.
“Someone like (Macquarie captain) Ed Haylock always gives me advice on my game and talks to me about variations and my batting at training so it will be good to play with him,” Hughes said.
“And there’s ‘Greeny’ (Jason Green) and others, I know them all and they’ve all been a massive help so it’s going to be good to play alongside them.”
Hughes is likely to get a big chance to shine with the ball for a Blues side which is yet to record a win this season.
Taking wickets is something the much-changed Macquarie side has struggled with, allowing CYMS to pile on 4-246 in the opening round before Newtown made 9-249 in the last game before the general bye.
The landmark debut is the latest honour for Hughes, who has trained alongside the women’s Australian side on numerous occasions.
As part of a pathway program, Hughes was asked to bowl to the likes of national players Ash Gardner and Ellyse Villani.
Hughes will also take part in a number of Sydney Thunder academy sessions in the coming weeks while early next year she will again line up for NSW at the national under 19 championships.
There she’s aiming to impress and earn selection in the national under 19 side after earning a spot as a reserve for the Australian team last season.